MSI X48 Platinum: Four PCI Express x16 Slots to go Please....by Kris Boughton on January 31, 2008 7:15 AM EST
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We've already looked at quite a few X48 motherboards, all due to arrive in the latter part of February. Those who are willing to spend a hefty sum are going to come out with some of the fastest systems ever seen to date. If this isn't you, don't worry as we've got a tip on the solution you've be looking for - MSI's most recently announced motherboard, the X48 Platinum. Targeted at the enthusiast audience that wants top performance without breaking the bank, this board brings with it all the goodness of Intel's latest X48 chipset with a price that is sure to delight. Although the board is certainly cheaper than the other X48 offerings we've looked at so far (at least, going by estimated MSRP), the X48 Platinum makes use of the more expensive DDR3 technology so in the end saving $100 on the board only to spend three times that much on memory makes price discussions rather pointless (at least until DDR3 becomes affordable).
We just managed to get our hands on Intel's brand new 45nm dual-core E8500 processor; unfortunately, this did not happen in time to include this beast in our early look at MSI X48 Platinum performance. Of course, "settling" for quad-core performance results when testing the board wasn't a difficult choice, but we know there are many out there that like to see what a motherboard can do when pushed to the limit with a high-clocking dual-core CPU. These results, including maximum FSB results for those of you that can't seem to live without this information, will be included in a follow-up review of our X48 collection prior to Intel's launch of this seemingly old but new chipset.
We also tried our hand at 4GB memory overclocking but ran into a couple of problems that prevented us from finishing all of our testing. At this time the X48 Platinum is much better at overclocking 2GB of memory, but there is no reason to think this won't change very soon. (We believe the problem is being created by a small discrepancy in a couple of bank-to-bank memory timings that can easily be corrected in the BIOS before release.)
If appearance is any indication of performance, we expect the X48 Platinum to do quite well when it comes to operating two or more ATI/AMD Radeon 3000-series graphics cards in CrossFire. Again, we have chosen to hold off reporting these results until we have had a chance to work with all of the major motherboard vendors. This way we can concentrate on bringing you an accelerated first-hand look at all of the products coming down the pipeline before we get into the specific details.
Both the Intel X48 Express chipset and NVIDIA's 790i release are just a few weeks away. It is quite probable that the decision on which platform to go with in the high-end market will rest entirely upon which multi-GPU solution ends up being better. On the other hand, if NVIDIA 790i fails to perform when it comes to overclocking 45nm quad-core CPUs then AMD/ATI could gain some traction in the multi-GPU arena in the first half of 2008, especially if CrossFire X drivers are ever released. We can't wait to see what NVIDIA has in store for us, but for now let's look at what MSI has managed to create using Intel's X48.